Does acupuncture bring on labour?
Acupuncture is a safe and gentle way to help bring on labour. It's safe for both mother and baby. It can help bring on labour and delivery, aiding a natural birth.
There are specific points that can be stimulated to promote cervical ripening and help increase levels of the labour hormone oxytocin, especially after the mother's water breaks. Often just one session from a licensed acupuncturist who is a member of the British Acupuncture Council is needed to start contractions. Sometimes, another few sessions are needed to bring on labour.
Going over your due date
Pregnancy normally lasts from 37 weeks to 42 weeks from the first day of your last period. As part of your antenatal care, your midwife will also offer you a dating scan that will give you a more accurate date for the birth of your baby. Only around 5% of babies actually arrive on their due date.
It's therefore highly likely that your baby won't be born on its due date, some are born pre term. It's not an exact science and is made variable by multiple factors, such as the baby's growth and the mother's energy and blood levels. If you've had IVF, then the due date is the same as if you conceived naturally as it's still calculated from your last period or down regulating bleed.
It's not too late to receive acupuncture for labour induction at 40 weeks. It can still help to bring on labour naturally, reducing the need to be medically induced.
How labour starts
The baby is ready to be born when it releases a protein from its lungs that initiates labour. When they are ready to take their first breathe is when they are ready to be born.
Acupuncture can gentle push them along naturally to bring on uterine contractions and a normal labour. It is safer and has less adverse effects than a medical induction. It does this by regulating levels of oxytocin and reducing stress levels such as cortisone, which can stop the release of oxytocin from the pituitary gland. Acupuncture increases oxytocin levels helping to bring on labour.
Research in labour induction
A review published in 2009 looked at the existing scientific evidence on the potential role of acupuncture to induce labor for pregnant women. All of the studies demonstrated effectiveness in women receiving it for labour induction. The reviewers concluded that the existing control trials suggest that acupuncture may be beneficial in labor induction.
There are certain acupressure points that a woman can do to dilate her cervix (Sanyinjiao - SP6), which helps to induce labour.References
Neri I. (2018). Acupuncture in Post-Date Pregnancy Management. J Acupunct Meridian Stud. pii: S2005-2901(17)30196-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jams.2018.06.001.